Brendan Lavin can’t make up his mind whether he’s a baker or a criminal. And in this debut thriller by Kirk Kjeldsen, he’s both. The plot is simple: the evil we do lives long after us. Or, in the alternative, history tends to repeat itself if we don’t learn from our mistakes. And that certainly applies to Brendan, who’s operating a marginal bakery in New York City on the brink of bankruptcy when his criminal past catches up with him.
Brendan is cajoled by former associates to participate in an armed robbery which ends up being a disaster. He had hoped to gain some cash to provide breathing room for his failing bakery. Instead, he has to leave the country on the lam. He travels to Hong Kong and then to Shanghai, where he opens another bakery, this one a success, and has a Chinese wife and a daughter. All goes well until his former associates show up and force him to participate in another armed robbery, this time of a jewelry store.
The novel is filled with violence, and interesting descriptions of the large Chinese city, its neighborhoods, smells and people. It is a tale of unprincipled gangsters, and seeks to evoke sympathy for Brendan, who probably deserves none, since he is the victim of his own past.